but I can’t let go
After my divorce twenty years ago, I spent time with a number of different men. One of the bonuses of that era is all the good stuff I got introduced to along the way, movies, foods, books, artists— that’s the stuff you get to keep when it’s over. One guy introduced me to Lucinda Williams. Her fantastic song, “Can’t Let Go,” suits my mood today.
Round every corner something I see
Brings it right back how it used to be
Well it’s over I know it but I can’t let go
The other night I had dinner with friends in a kitchen across the street from a house I used to own. I’ve often regretted selling that sweet little house. I felt sad seeing it, the dogwood I planted thriving without me. I usually avoid going down that street. I sat with my back to the window in my friend’s house, so I wouldn’t have to look over there.
You know what though? This is ridiculous! There must be a way to snap out of it. I think it’s another remnant of my childhood. I never got over losing the love of my father, and I seem to re-experience echoes of that loss every few minutes. I mean, come on! There must be a better way. You want to enlighten me, Bob?
Bob: Maybe you just need a good man.
me: What? You must be crazy. I know how that goes. You bring a man into a mess and the mess doubles. I’m not ready for that, and you know it.
Bob: But you secretly want it. You secretly imagine that if it were the right man, it would work.
me: I mean, he’d have to come to therapy with me! First date? Therapy appointment. Ha ha, Bob. I’m scared to death of being touched, of letting anyone get close to me, of having to include anyone else in my day to day life.
Bob: And the longer you avoid it the scarier it gets.
me: It’s not like I haven’t tried.
Bob: You’ve never tried with me around.
me: That’s true. Everything I tried before you, failed. Every decision I made was a mistake, like selling that house.
Bob: So do you want to cling to your past mistakes and count up your regrets, or do you want to trust me on this?
me: Regrets feel more comfortable. I’m used to them.
Bob: I know, but I’m making you a serious offer. You don’t have to live like that any more. And you don’t have to do something big and scary right now. All I’m asking you to do is consider the possibility of healing.
me: Well I’m always saying I’m open-minded. I guess there’s no harm in opening up this closet door. It’s just an experiment. I can slam that door closed again if I want to at any point, right?
Bob: Right. Why go around feeling jealous of your therapist and her calm, stable life? Why feel jealous of your old friends who stayed in their houses? Why not let me a little further into your world? See what happens.
me: Ok, Bob. I can’t believe you’re bringing this up today. I thought I was going to wait until I was done with therapy, all cured, before I took on the hardest thing.
Bob: Taking on the hardest thing is part of the cure.
me: Ok, here we go again. Scared shitless, but I do trust you, Bob. I guess we’ve been building up to this in our relationship.
Bob: You need some positive goals for your therapy. Looking into the maw of dysfunction every week is no good. You gotta break it up a bit. Make a list of everything you want. Describe the way you want to live. Your ideal life. Be as specific as you can. That’s your first assignment.
me: I feel like I’ve tried that list thing hundreds of times. I mean, it’s the New Age Way. Approaching such a project right now makes me think, “I want to be dead.” I’m too scared of everything else, except sitting in my kitchen and writing.
Bob: Ok, let’s make the list together then. I’ll suggest something and then you say yes or no, or if it’s yes with objections, we’ll work through each one. There’s no hurry. We’ll do this at your pace.
me: Maybe. I’ll let you know.